Compact vehicles with electric drive provide an excellent opportunity to push forward electromobility. However, traffic experts says that the current safety standards of the L7E vehicle class (“quad clas”) are not sufficient for wide-scale deployment in roads.

With this, a consortium called Visio.M has revealed the 'Safety' subproject to demonstrate how light and electric vehicles can achieve an acceptable level of safety on the road. Visio.M is a joint research project with BMW AG, Daimler AG (Mercedes-Benz group), Autoliv, IAV and TTechnische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) to develop concepts and to produce electric cars that are efficient, safe and affordable.

According to Visio.M, systematic lightweight construction is a decisive component of efficient electric cars, but during the Euro NACP testing, L7E class vehicles (max. empty weight of 400 kg) show substantial deficits in some areas. Safety experts are calling for more effective passenger protection in light electric cars if they populate roads in larger numbers.

Despite the size, compact vehicles must provide passengers with a safe compartment. In addressing this issue, Visio.M incorporates the rigid passenger compartment with carbon fiber reinforced plastic. Moreover, the deformation zones in the front and rear sections, as well as the roof structure are made of high-strength aluminum.

360-degree detection camera system

Visio.M also introuduces an integrated safety concept based on the recognition of surrounding traffic via radar and camera sensors. The research team incorporates a 360-degree detection camera that recognizes critical driving situations early on. When the system senses an imminent collision, it activates the integrated passenger protection system even before the actual crash occurs.

A key component of this strategy is the integration of structural airbags along with heavy duty pressure hoses mounted in the bumpers and side panels. Visio.M says fractions of a second prior to impact, a gas generator fills the pressure hoses making the exterior panels to be pressed outwards between the outer skin and chassis as an additional absortion layer.

Additional two-point safety belt and side airbag

To provide further protection, Visio.M incorporates an additional two-point safety belt inside the vehicle to hold the passengers firmly in their seats. When the vehicle detects an unaviodable side collision, Visio.M says the passenger on the impact side is pulled towards the middle of the car a split second before the crash.